UK may probe ‘links’ between APC, Boko Haram

Author:
Chidi Chima

A prominent member of the British parliament, Mr. Andrew Rosindell (pictured), has questioned the UK foreign secretary, Mr. William Hague, on the country’s engagement with Nigeria’s leading opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), over the Boko Haram menace.

This came after a debate in parliament in which Labour MP Sandra Osborne sought to examine allegations of links between APC and the insurgents.

The increasing questioning of the UK government by MPs on the issue may force an enquiry into the allegations.

However, APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told TheCable on Friday that he was not aware of any meeting between the leadership of APC and Hague.

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Rosindell, a conservative who represents Romford and is a member of the influential foreign affairs committee, sent in his written questions ─ called “notices” ─ on Tuesday, July 8.

Hague is mandated to formally respond to Rosindell’s questions in the coming weeks on behalf of the British government.

The questions, listed under “notices for written answer”, were published on the website of the UK parliament.

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Rosindell’s queries relating to Boko Haram, as listed, are:

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will commission an inquiry into the international support network for Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon; and if he will make a statement. (Notice no. 204402)
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions (a) he and (b) other Ministers in his Department have had with leading members of the Nigerian opposition party, the All Progressive Congress; and if he will make a statement. (204401)
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the rise in Islamic terrorism in Nigeria. (204387)
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support his Department plans to offer to Nigeria in tackling the threat of Boko Haram. (204388)
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of links between Boko Haram and other Islamic extremist groups in Africa. (204389)
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will discuss with his counterpart in Cameroon the need for constructive dialogue between that country and Nigeria in tackling Boko Haram; and if he will make a statement. (204390)

Also at a recent meeting in parliament, led by Henry Jackson Society and chaired by an MP, John Glen, who is a close adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, similar allegations were raised that key APC members are supporters and financiers of Boko Haram “for ideological and political means”.

The UK is now showing more than a passing interest in the Boko Haram threat after the kidnap of hundreds of schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, in April.

Hague, at an international summit on rape in warzones held in London in June, reaffirmed the UK’s “strong and united commitment to defeat Boko Haram [and] to end the scourge of terrorism in Nigeria”.

President Goodluck Jonathan recently launched the Safe School Initiative with the support of the British government.

Although Jonathan has not directly accused APC of having links with Boko Haram, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to which he belongs has constantly tied the opposition to the insurgents.

Recently, an APC member, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, defected to the PDP, accusing some top members of the opposition party of having sympathy for Boko Haram.

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APC has consistently denied these allegations and accused the presidency and PDP of playing politics with national security.

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